Game Over!

That wraps up my time at school, but I know that this theme is set to continue as the teachers have more learning planned based on toys and what the children experienced this week.

Thank you to all the children and staff that made me so welcome at Coalbrookdale school this week. Special thanks to Mr Glover and Mrs Williams who helped with lots of organisational things that made the week possible.
Huge thanks also to Mrs Edge who helped me loads this week. She brought in old photos, shared her old toys and made a massive super-human effort to string up Class 3′s marionettes. Thanks so much!

Just to finish, here are a few 3D photos taken at school this week for those who have red/blue 3D glasses.

Thanks again,
Mr Williams

Day 5 – 1985

Today our final trip took us to Christmas morning 1985.
We began by looking at girls toys. I showed the children the Care Bears that Mrs Edge brought in and the children told me that they still have Care Bears today. We talked about advertising and hype and I explained to the children that there was one toy in the 80′s that people queued to buy and actually fought over in the shops as they were so desirable – Cabbage Patch Kids. We watched old Cabbage Patch adverts and learned that each doll was individual and had it’s own name and a birth certificate. We read out the promise you have to make when you adopt a Cabbage Patch Kid. I told the children that other toy companies copied the idea of having unique toys and adoption certificates, namely Pound Puppies and Build a Bear Workshop.
Today we are concentrating on electronic toys and how they changed the face of toys forever, so we had to take a glance back to the late seventies when…
MB Electronics created Simon a simple electronic game that was highly popular. I showed how you had to copy his light pattern.
We then talked about the arrival of video games in arcades and that children wanted to play arcade games at home.
Space Invaders and Pac Man were amongst the most famous games. Toy companies began to make simple table top versions of the arcade games such as Galaxy Invaders 1000 and Munchman. We had a look at some of these games and I explained how each machine could only deliver a single game, would have only 2 or 3 colours and the sounds were a series of beeps. Very basic yet still quite expensive to buy.
For those who could afford it there was the king if 80′s home video entertainment, the Atari games console. I showed an old Atari advert and talked about the cartridges that you had to buy to go along with it. Each cartridge cost as much as a table top electronic game, so even those lucky enough to own an Atari would probably only have one or two games to play on it.

The toys on the shelves and fireplace were:
Cabbage Patch Kid
Pound Puppy
2 Care Bears
Galaxy Invaders 1000
View Master
Legoland Police Station
Legoland Fire Station
Little Professor
Lightening Luke
5 x Tomytronic 3D games
Cuddly ET (hidden in the Christmas tree!)
Atari 2600 console and games
80's Toys

Toys and Games Morning
After assembly we began our brilliant toy morning where everyone got to play with the old toys. We set out tables, laid out the toys and class by class all the children came into the hall and played with everything from Cup & Ball to Buck-a-roo to Bigtrak and Atari. Happily the children followed ‘The Coalbrookdale Way’ and were careful and respectful of these vintage toys and had a great time exploring the playthings of a past century.

Day 4 – 1977

Today we were taken back to 1977 (Christmas day, of course!)

Our shelves and fireplace area were absolutely crammed with toys, there were so many that they hardly fitted on!

I explained that since the 1950’s, toys had been steadily getting better and better, year after year. There were still some tin toys in the 1950’s but by the 1970’s nearly everything was made of plastic. Plastic is cheap and easy to make things from, so that meant toys could be made larger and more exciting without becoming too expensive to make, or for people to be able to afford to buy them.

Television has moved on too. Children weren’t watching Robin Hood or traditional heroes any more. They were more likely to be watching The Hulk or Wonder Woman. Super Heroes and super hero toys were very popular in the 1970s.
By the 1970’s people had 3 channels on their TV’s: BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. Along with ITV came adverts. We looked at some toy adverts and talked about how children’s Christmas list might be affected by what they’d seen in adverts on TV.

70s toysThe toys on the shelf and fireplace were:

Ker Plunk
Action Man
Buzz off
The Celebrity Squares Game
Batman, and Robin Action Figures
Batmobile Toy
Connect 4
North Sea Blow Out
Tip – it
A Six Billion Dollar Man Puzzle
70s toysA Stylophone
A Fisher Price Radio
Scalextric set 35
Big Big Train Set
The Hulk
Rock em, Sock em Robots
Hats Off
Ruper Bear soft toy
Rupert Bear Annuals
Super Hero Rotadraw
A Mr Men annual
Lego Kitchen
2 View masters
A Play School Puzzle
Mouse Trap Game
A Fisher Price Record Player
Jaws Game
Mr Potato Head
Large Red Army men
Fisher Price Ride On Horse
Chess Tutor
Morecambe & Wise Game

On our time line we noticed that a large number of teachers and staff were born in the late 1960s or the 1970s, so today we were lucky enough to have lots of experts from this time in school. Mrs Edge very kindly brought along some of her precious childhood toys to share with us including her Rupert Bear soft toy and annuals, Fisher-price record player and radio music boxes and a very special soft white elephant. Mr & Mrs Morgan brought in Sindy and Action Man along with some other interesting toys. Thanks Mr & Mrs Morgan and Mrs Edge!

We played some games in the hall including ‘Tip-it’ and ‘Rock-em, Sock-em Robots’ which was good fun. I then went on to tell the children that by the 1970’s we now have some battery powered toys whereas in the 50’s moving toys would have generally been clockwork. We took a look at a ‘bump and go’ Dalek and a Stylophone (musical toy).

Towards the end of the 1970’s there was to be a big change in the type of toys that children would want. Something new was on the horizon… Watch this space!

In Class 4
We took a close look at a selection of 1970’s games and learned how to play them by reading through the rules on the back of their lids.
We looked at some more vintage TV adverts for toys in the 1970s and then set about making our own commercials for the toys that we had used that morning.

First of all we storyboarded our adverts, planning the type of shots we would need and the persuasive language we would use in our adverts, then we began to set up and record our scenes. The children worked really hard and smartly to put together good adverts with iMovie on their iPads. A little more work is needed before we can share the finished ads with you!

Day 3 – 1955

This morning, our time machine took us back to 1955. No one was surprised to find that it had chosen, once again, to drop us off on Christmas morning (someone wisely commented that it obviously knows that December 25th is the best day in any year to find plenty of toys!)

We were very pleased to see electric lights on the Christmas tree for the first time (I told the children how, back in 1911, they would have had candles clipped to the branches).

1955 ToysOn the shelves we saw:

Die Cast toy cars
More clockwork tin cars
Tin robots
A more modern 3D View-Master
An electric train set
Game of ‘Sorry’
Tintin Books
An Eagle Annual
Champion the Wonder Horse Annual
Mickey Mouse Glove Puppet
Huckleberry Hound soft toy
Pinocchio soft toy
Book of Bible Stories
Toy Farm Yard
Teddy Bear
A soft Elephant toy (made from an old school tunic)
Tin walking dog toy
A number of Marionettes
Wooden Ironing board and clothes airer toy

It was immediately obvious that the toys were larger, more colourful and that there were more of them than before.
We were lucky enought to have Mrs Chapman with us, who actually experienced childhood in the 50′s, which meant that she became our expert! She showed us some pictures of when she was a little girl in the 50′s with her toys and also brought along some precious toys to show, which was really special – thanks Mrs Chapman!
We then discovered that people now had televisions in their homes and that children’s TV had begun. We took a look at some of the ‘Watch with Mother’ programmes such as ‘The Wooden Tops’, ‘Bill and Ben’ and ‘Muffin the Mule’.
In 1955, there was only one ‘Watch with Mother’ programme on TV each day, at about 1.30pm. It lasted for about 15 minutes (a far cry from Cbeebies!)
We saw how most of these programmes used string puppets which lead us on to look at the marionette toys from the 1950s.
We then took a look at how TV influenced other toys. We saw television programmes such as ‘The Lone Ranger’, ‘Champion the Wonder Horse’ and ‘Bonanza’ all of which promoted cowboy related toys such as cap guns and holsters, sheriff badges and spurs.
We also noticed that dogs seemed very popular on TV with shows such as ‘Lassie’ and ‘Rin-Tin-Tin’.

We saw programmes that retold old stories that children had previously only been able to read about in books. Stories such as ‘Ivanhoe’, ‘The Adventures of Sir Lancelot’ and ’ The Adventures of Robin Hood’.  To round off our look at 1950’s TV we all joined in a rousing chorus of the Robin Hood theme tune… Robin Hood, Robin Hood riding through the glen… !

Class 3
Today in class 3, we took a closer look at marionettes. All the children had the chance to use one of the old puppets that I brought along so that they could see how they worked.
Then we set about making our own string puppets from the parts that I’d brought along. Marionette making is extremely fiddly requiring patience, nimble fingers and good knot tying skills. I was really impressed with how well the children assembled the parts and made a really good job of tying the strings that hold the puppet together. Once the paint is dry we’ll be able to attach them to their controllers and have working marionettes.

Day 2 – 1934

Today our time machine took us back to 1934 and to our surprise it landed on December 25th again, Christmas Day!
The room that we visit looked quite similar to before, but the first thing we noticed was that there was a big radio on the shelves. I told the children how the ‘wireless’ (radio) was an expensive, but exciting thing to own back in the 30’s and how my Grandad had to sell his best pig to be able to buy this one many years ago.
Over on the fireplace there were a different selection of Christmas cards and a large wooden game of bagatelle. On the shelves there we found the following toys:
1934 ToysMeccano
A wooden pop gun
A tin music box
A pull along toy
A tin Biplane toy
A tin clockwork car
2 Clockwork car and road sets
A Box Brownie Camera
A View-master Stereo (3D) viewer

We talked about how most of these toys are made of tin compared to the ones from 1911 which were made of wood. We also found out that there were lots more toys available and that they were now more affordable for all people not just the rich.
We also found out that people now had their own cameras and even children could take photos easily.

In Class 2
FariesWe found out about Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, two young cousins who managed to find and photograph Fairies at the bottom of their garden.
We decided to go down into the forest school area armed with a camera to see if we could find any magical creatures.

In Class 5
We investigated the 3D View-Master toy and also looked at a much older (Victorian) Stereoscope. We discussed the word ‘Stereo’ and talked about ‘Stereophonic’ meaning ‘2-sounds’ and ‘Stereographic’ meaning ‘2-pictures’.
We talked about how having 2 ears helped us to know which direction sounds are coming from and how having 2 eyes gives our brains information on how far away things are.
We discovered that to create a real illusion of depth, like in the 3D cinema, we need 2 pictures, one for the perspective of each eye.
We then set about making 2D pictures into stereo pairs (one for each eye), so that when we view them using a stereo viewer they appear to be in 3D. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of our experiment on Friday!

Day 1 – 1911

Today we introduced our week’s theme on 20th Century toys. I explained that we chose to look at the 20th century as that’s the period when toys changed the most.

We talked about the names we use for ‘chunks’ of time: Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Days, Weeks, Months, Years, Decades, Centurys and Millennia.

We noticed that we were at a very unusual point in history because every single child in the school was born in a different century to their teachers. In fact we noticed that the children and teachers actually come from different Millennia too which is a very rare occurrence.

We made a timeline along the length of the hall and marked every 10 years from 1900 to 2000. We then charted when each teacher was born and the decade they grew up in. Now we know which teachers are the experts in which decades.

Our timeline is going to stay in the hall all week and we will be able to add to it as we find things out.

The Time CircuitOnce we’d had a look at the 20th century on our timeline, it was time to get in our time machine and pretend to travel back in time. The time machine has a time circuit that displays the dates that we travel through and shows us where when we land. Today it took us back to 1911.

It was Christmas day when we landed and we saw the inside of a house on Christmas morning in 1911. There was a cabinet full of toys. They were mainly made of wood. Here’s a list of the toys that we saw:

1911 ToysWooden Alphabet Blocks
Wooden Toy Train
Skipping Rope
Pick-up-Sticks game
Spinning top
Pond Yacht
Cup and Ball
5 Stones
Tiddly Winks
Wooden Sword
Jacobs Ladder

We also saw old photos of children with toy dolls and teddy bears. Teddy bears had only just been invented in 1911!

We agreed that the toys were very basic and understood that only rich children would have had toys that were bought from a shop. Most other children would have made up their own games with basic materials such as sticks, stones and old bobbin reels. Or sometimes they may have been made a toy by someone in their family, like the wooden sword or paper kite.


I then showed everyone what I consider to be one of the most interesting toys of this time; the Zoetrope.

The Zoetrope was invented in the mid nineteenth century, but was still very popular in the early 20th century although mainly reserved for adults use.

An early Milton Bradley Zoetrope Advert

An early Milton Bradley Zoetrope Advert

A quick Zoetrope overview (YouTube)
See vintage Zoetrope animations (YouTube)

In Class 6
After the mornings assembly I joined class 6 in making zoetropes out of card along with 12 frame animations to go inside them.

Class 6 children, who would like to make more animations at home, can print out these templates onto A4 paper (please make sure that your printer doesn’t re-scale the image).

Zoetrope template #2 Zoetrope template #1

We found that drawing the frames on individual pieces of cut-out paper was easier because we could lay each frame over the last and trace it, but making small changes. That way we get a smooth animation.
Once we’ve stuck all our individual frames onto our strip we can then see the pictures move in our zoetropes.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all again tomorrow for a trip to different year!

Mr Williams